Interview with UTSA Head Coach Larry Coker:
On Saturday’s game vs K-State
“We had a 7-3 halftime score and 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, so we did some things well. I think the big thing again is we have to somehow find a way to get a win. Kansas State is a good team; they’re exactly what was advertised. They don’t make mistakes. They don’t beat themselves. They were physical. They are a Big 12 football team. We knew that going in and that’s the world we live in.”
How do you feel the defense performed?
“The defense, they did hang in. I’ll tell you the thing we did offensively, we just didn’t make the plays. We had to make the plays. We had such a great offensive game against Arizona. Kansas State is a very physical defense and they had us pretty good at times. We played hard — can’t fault their efforts … proud of that — but we allowed a few what I say ‘explosives’ … some big plays … a couple over the middle that hurt us, but all in all they played tough. A couple things they did to let the score get away. It was missed calls or bad calls. You had fourth-and-goal from the three and you don’t make it. Then you have a fake punt and you don’t make it. You give them a short field. Those are things that are calls, but we weren’t going to make it with field goals, we had to score touchdowns. We had exactly what we wanted on the fourth-down play, but they did a good job, they batted the ball down so we won’t fault that.
Are you worried about giving up explosive plays downfield?
“No doubt, because the teams we’re playing have explosive players. I’ve been on both sides of the deal there. I think the thing is that we have some explosive players too and the thing we have to do is that we have to create some explosives and get some of those big plays on the outside, but definitely I’m concerned about it. We’ll see those guys again this week I’m sure with Oklahoma State. They have a really good quarterback in Rudolph and of course J.W. Walsh played against us two years ago, the young man from Denton, so we think they have two really good quarterbacks. They can get the ball to their receivers. Is Dez Bryant still there or is he gone?"
What’s different about Oklahoma State from last season?
“I think they’re more explosive this year than a year ago. Their defensive front is probably better and their linebackers are back. Both of these defensive ends are really good. This linebacker from Cibolo, he is from Steele [Ryan Simmons], is a really good player. He was good last year, he is good this year and we’re going to see him again. They probably have more Texans on their team than we do. They have a ton of kids from Texas. Pat Jones, I don’t know if I totally agree with this, but Pat Jones always said, ‘You can have people recruit in Texas … go down there and get the players other schools don't want and still recruit a good football team.’ There may be a little truth to that. These kids were not afterthoughts, they were very good players and had places to go when they came out.?
What’s the atmosphere like in Stillwawter?
“I’m going to be in the third row, I’m not standing on the sidelines this year. It’s dangerous down there. I was there for seven years, you know it’s close, but I went back last year and said ‘wow I didn’t realize it was this close' because you’re right there by the wall. It’s a great atmosphere for college football. That’s the thing, I don’t know if that’s a good thing for us, but I like our players to have the opportunity to play in those types of places, in that type of atmosphere. That’s just a great thing, I think. It’s a great college venue. I know Mike [Gundy] well. I coached Mike and guys that are there so it’s going to be a great atmosphere. It’s a tough atmosphere, it really is. We had a great atmosphere here last week if we could have exhilarated that. We never really got things going to get our crowd really into it to disrupt their offense."
On the spike of penalties so far throughout the season
“That’s the thing, the foolish penalties we had really hurt us. I think if we would have scored a touchdown in that first drive, how much of a difference would that have made? We don’t know, but I think it would have made a difference. Our fans were so excited about the team we were playing, the way we played against Arizona probably helped out some, but they were so excited about it and into it and we were moving the ball. We have to energize our fans at the right time, we have to make sure we do our thing and keep our fans energized. What we talked about is sometimes we’re going to have effort penalties, some things that are just really effort and maybe get a penalty, but we’re not really concerned about. The foolish penalties, the mental mistakes that you make. We can’t accept that and we we’re not good enough to overcome those type of penalties. I think the thing you see is that we have a ton of young guys and sometimes they get a little over exuberant and make some mistakes like the three motion penalties, the three offsides penalties. Those are things that are unacceptable. We have one snap count, let’s come off on our snap count.”
Is it a learning experience going against these top programs?
“I think it is one. You look at the schedule and we knew that going in. We knew that before we kicked off, but I think it has been a good learning experience for us. This is major college football and it’s where we want to be. I’d like to add maybe a couple wins over easier teams. That wouldn’t hurt either. Again, I think it’s a situation where you realize you’re playing the best and playing in one of the best leagues in the country and so it has to be a good learning experience for us. We realize too, the way we’re trying to approach it, it’s really not about them, it’s about us. Things that you saw in the game, the penalties and things that happened that we did wrong; those are things that we can correct. We can’t correct how fast their running back is or how well they throw and catch, but we can correct our stuff.”